OBSERVATIONS: How To Fix A Broken Game

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, wondering how many times a guy scores from third base on a nubber in front of home plate that the catcher picks up?Just asking for Jake Fraley.

—An Open Letter To Commissioner Rob Manfraud:

It is well-accepted by so many of we grizzled old baseball lovers that some of your implemented rules are regarded as coming from the House of Stupidity.

The ghost runner. Yech. The three-batter minimum for relief pitchers. Yech.

So me and former Cincinnati Reds general manager Murray Cook are suggesting a major, major change.

What bothers us is that you keep expanding the playoffs so that it is coming close to a time when every team will get a Participation Trophy.

It is now a game of a few teams having a lot and most teams having nothing. That means teams under .500, at .500 or just over .500 make the playoffs. It makes the regular season nearly meaningless.

So here’s the deal, Commish:

Add one franchise to each league so that there are 16 teams in the National League and 16 teams in the American Leaague. Divide each league into two eight-team divisions.

At the end of the season, the two division winners play each other, best of seven, for the league pennant. The two winners meet in the World Series.

And while we’re at it, eliminate interleague play. The National League plays only NL teams and the American League plays only AL teams.

That means when the World Series is played, like the old days, the two teams will not have played each other, returning mystique to the Fall Classic.

We know it won’t happen. It makes too much sense. We figure to further speed up the game, your next moves will be three balls for a walk, two strikes for a strikeout and two outs per half-inning. Oh, and five-inning games, of course.

—PHIL MURPHY?: When Hall of Fame shortstop Phil Rizzuto was 16 and in high school, he played for a semi-pro team to make a few bucks. He used an assumed name, Phil Murphy.

His team played against the Kansas City Monarchs and the New York Black Yankees of the Negro Leagues and Rizzuto faced Satchel Paige and played against Josh Gibson.

“Our manager put some balls in an ice box and we’d use those when the other team batted and the ball wouldn’t go as far,” said Rizzuto. “When we batted, he slipped the normal balls into the game.”

When the 5-foo-6 Rizzuto was 16, he tried out for the Brooklyn Dodgers and manager Casey Stengel told him, “You’re too short, kid. You ought to go out and shine shoes. You can go sit in the stands and watch the game, but you’ll never be a big league ballplayer.”

Casey went down swinging on that scouting report.

—FRIENDS TO THE SAME END: Hugh Casey began his career with the Brooklyn Dodgers as a starter, but mid-career he was turned into a relief pitcher. . .and some say the best during his time. In nine years he was 75-42 with a 3.42 earned run average and 54 saves.

When Branch Rickey signed Jackie Robinson as the first Black player, the Dodgers trained in Havana, Cuba to avoid the hassles Robinson would encounter if they held spring training in the segregated south.

Casey met and befriended writer Ernest Hemingway and the two were inseparable when Casey wasn’t at the ball park.They both ended their own lives with shotgun suicide

—CAP IT OFF: Willie May is rightfully accepted as the best all-around player in baseball history, right?

By the numbers, though, Henry Aaron was the best righthanded hitter ever, maybe the best from both sides. No other player had more than 700 homers, more than 3,000 hits, more than 2,000 RBI and more than 2,000 runs.

Aaron was neither flamboyant nor outspoken and once said to the great Louisville columnist Dave Kindred, “I did everything Willie ever did, but my cap stayed on.” Said Kindred, “He did not smile.”

Incredibly Aaron and Mays were nearly teammates on the New York Giants. Aaron nearly signed with the Giants before opting for the Boston Braves.

“I had the Giants’ contract in my hand, but the Braves offered $50 a month more,” said Aaron. “That’s the only thing that kept Willie Mays and me from being teammates. . .$50.”

Why in the name of Dusty Rhodes wouldn’t the Giants find $50 a month for Aaron? What an outfield that would have been.

—ALMOST A RED: Hall of Fame third baseman Ron
Santo played 14 years for the Chicago Cubs. If he loved money or wanted to be a catcher, he would have played for the Cincinnati Reds.

When he was a high school senior in Seattle, every team in baseball made him an offer. The Reds made the highest bid, an $80,000 bonus. But they wanted to make him a catcher and start his minor-league
career in his Seattle hometown.

The Cubs, after orgiginally promising him a $50,000 signing bonus, reneged and low-balled him at $20,000. Nevertheless, he signed with the Cubs because he had established a close friendship and loyalty with Cub’ bird dog scout Dave Tacher.

Why not the Reds? Said Santo at the time, “They wanted me to start my career in my hometown (Seattle) and I’d rather not play in my hometown because playing at home is a lot of pressure.”

—JUST THREE WORDS: Former Reds manager Dave Miley was a man of few words and had a three-word mantra that rings so true about major league baseball: “Winning is hard.”

That completely sums up the whole process, doesn’t it. He could have added three more words: “Losing is easy.”

—PLAYLIST NUMBER 65: I’m not a big fan of this song, but because of what Jeimer Candelario is doing for the Cincinnati Reds, I’ll mention The Candy Man by Sammy Davis Jr.

Purple Rain (Prince), Like A Rolling Stone (Bob Dylan), Be My Baby (The Ronettes), Hey Jude (The Beatles), I Just Want To Be Your Everything (Andy Gibb), Let’s Get It On (Marvin Gaye), Another One Bites The Dust (Queen).

Lady (Kenny Rogers), Centerfold (J. Geils Band), Ebony And Ivory (Paul McCartney & Stevie Wonder), Billie Jean (Michael Jackson), You’re So Vain (Carly Simon), Because I Love You (Stevie B.), I Swear (All-4-One), It’s All Comng Back To Me Now (Meat Loaf).



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